Fall Flavors: Q&A with Our North Coast Nosh VI Vendors
Last week marked the official transition from summer to fall. Despite the unseasonably warm weather, the shorter days and the overabundance of pumpkin spice lattes are clear indicators that the winter months are not too far ahead. In anticipation of our fall North Coast Nosh VI on October 13, we caught up with some of our vendors to learn more about them, see how they are incorporating the fall flavors into their cooking, and find out what samples they’re bringing to the event.
What is the story behind Lift Bridge?
I [Dan Schwarz] got into home brewing with my business partners. We all moved to Stillwater in 2001, and they were home brewers. I was excited to learn more about home brewing, and they were good enough to invite me to their brew sessions. I was hooked after the first brew. We named the brewery “Lift Bridge Brewing Company” because we wanted a name that represented the St. Croix Valley and Stillwater — the heritage, history, and representing something built to last. We also liked the imagery of a bridge, connecting places and people.
What fall-inspired beers are being released this season?
We have two fun fall beers this year. The first is a single batch of Oktoberfest, a lager with light caramel notes and a round finish. It was available in draft and in our tap room, but we sold out of it in just a couple of weeks. The second beer is the Harvestör (below), a fresh hop or wet hop beer. We partnered with a local hop farm called Hippity Hops Farms that grows organic Cascade hops in Forest Lake, MN. We had a hop-picking festival at the brewery called “Pickin’ & Grinnin’,” and several hundred brewery supports joined us to help pick hops off the vine, while we provided beer and live music. The hops went from vine to brew in a matter of minutes. We are releasing this beer during the first week of October, and we will have it for the North Coast Nosh event. The beer has a green, grassy, earthy note. It is similar to pale ale, but with a massive dose of fresh hops.
Any other beers available for sample at the Nosh event?
In addition to the Harverstör, we will have one of our most popular beers, the Farm Girl Saison. It is made with Belgian malt and yeast, and has a hit of Seville orange peel added to the boil to give it a crisp, citrus finish. We will also have our Chestnut Hill Brown Ale, the perfect beer for a cool fall evening. It is made with roasted malts and a dash of cinnamon and allspice, giving the beer a subtle hazelnut finish. We will also have our Hop Dish IPA, a play on the Minnesotan “hot dish.” Our brewmaster, Matt Hall, combines seven different hop varieties to give the beer a wonderful, floral nose, with a hint of apricot, pine, and citrus balanced with a subtle malt sweetness.
What are some of the fall-inspired dishes that we can expect in the hot bar, or prepared food / meat section?
Our hot bar is ever-evolving as far as new dishes go. For starters, this fall we have butternut squash lasagna, shepherd’s pie, and pasties. We are starting a new line of East Indian cuisine in our fresh deli pre-packaged shelves as well. Our meat department now features in-house-made, freshly prepared entree dishes that you can pop into your own oven at home, just adding a salad or side dish to round out the meal. These dishes are beautiful and yummy, and capture the essence of fall.
Are you carrying any unique fall produce?
For produce, the first thing you see as you enter the store is our autumn eye candy, “Squash Mountain.” This is a huge pile of gorgeous, colorful squashes of all different varieties and sizes. We also have a large variety of both locally grown sweet and spicy peppers to warm up those cool nights. Root vegetables are very popular in the fall: kohlrabi, turnips, parsnips, and interesting varieties of unusual radishes. We also have some of the biggest and most delicious local sweet potatoes found anywhere; one sweet potato could easily feed a family of four. Finally, we have good Hoch Orchard local and organic apples of all varieties, as well as their fresh, orchard-grown and farm-pressed ciders in regular and berry flavors. We offer an abundance of fall-inspired recipes located about the store, and cooking classes to help prepare the dishes.
You recently underwent a store renovation. What are some of the improvements shoppers can look forward to?
With our sales floor renovation, shoppers can enjoy expanded produce, meat, and grocery department selections, as well as more elbow room for our hot bar and salad bar. Our final areas of renovation currently under construction are the cheese department, which will be expanded, as well as our deli pre-packaged area. Our bulk section is revamped with spiffy new fixtures from which customers can view and easily access the huge variety of unpackaged, bulk products.
What delicious eats will be available for sample at the Nosh?
We haven’t yet nailed down what we are going to bring. It will be a surprise!
What are the new additions to the food and drink menu for the fall?
Our fall-inspired coffee is the Nocturnal Brew, a smooth coffee with low acidity that has a dried-cherry sweetness and woody, oaky notes. It is full bodied with a hint of smoke. Our fall specialty drink is being created as we speak. We want all of our drinks to be outstanding, so we are tweaking it until it is just right. For food, we offer vegan chili and a daily soup from the Wedge Co-op that is ever changing. Both our chili and our soup are served with fresh bread from the Wedge Bakehouse and decadent Castle Rock butter, and are perfect comfort food for cooler fall days.
We enjoyed your smoked salt caramel latte from last year’s fall Nosh. What can we look forward to sampling on the 13th?
This year, we will be brewing Chemex pots (above) of our Alchemy Series Release No. 1, a clean and crisp cup with notes of red licorice and rose hips, as well as our Nocturnal Brew. Our fall-inspired specialty drink is on its way. It is being kept under wraps, so prepare to be dazzled.
Any vendors you are especially looking forward to meeting this year?
We are excited for all of the vendors that will be participating in the North Coast Nosh. Everyone is so talented. We are looking forward to meeting and sampling Lucid Brewing — we are beer lovers after all — as well as 10,000 Licks. Their unique flavor combos always delight our taste buds.
What is your inspiration for the food behind Gai Gai Thai?
I’m passionate about Thai food, and I am a big supporter of the local food movement. As a result, our dishes represent some of my favorite childhood meals, such as a Thai omelet with Chinese sausage, as well as Minnesota updates such as tom yum corn on the cob or coconut sticky rice with local ground cherries and raspberries.
With the start of fall, how are you tweaking your menu to incorporate some of the warmer, more comforting dishes?
We are going to roll out more curries, with tofu, braised beef, and pork, and possibly more noodle soups (above). The breakfast bowls will be a mainstay, and we are also going to do more dishes with sticky rice.
What samples are you bringing to the Nosh? Whose food are you looking forward to sampling?
We are still deciding, but in the running are Thai tea lattes, curries, and soups. Probably not all in one dish though. I’m looking forward to sampling food from Patisserie 46 and 10,000 Licks.
Have more questions for our vendors? Meet them at the Nosh! Purchase tickets for $25 ($20 with Zombie Pub Crawl wristband) at the door tonight (Oct. 13) at the American Swedish Institute.
North Coast Nosh VI at the American Swedish Institute’s Nelson Cultural Center
Saturday, October 13, 5-8pm, 2600 Park Ave S, Minneapolis, MN
Ticket price includes free samples of food and drink; attendees must be 21 years of age or older and have valid ID. Paper tickets will be sent by mail, cost of postage is included in ticket price. These events sell out.
If you’d like information about ordering tickets by mail (paying by check), email firstname.lastname@example.org.