Longtime BFFs Sara Doherty (above left) and Britt Jungerberg (above right) used to spend time in each other’s kitchens, cooking, eating, and enjoying each other’s families. But as young children entered the picture and life got more hectic, they turned away from elaborate meals and homed in on snacking. Specifically, dips and things you can dip in them.
Rather than relying on store-bought dips, they began experimenting with their own. Starting with a base of cream cheese, pureed white beans, and various pickled vegetables, they eventually refined several flavors and decided to make a business out of it. Their line of products, Darling Pickle Dips ($7 each, or 4 for $24), launched in 2016 and is available at a number of farmers markets in the metro.
These dips are a fun update on traditional chip dips. The cream cheese gives them a tart richness, while the pureed beans add some heft and a slightly chunkier texture than is normally found in a creamy dip (and, for those who care about these things, a better nutritional profile). There’s something here for just about everyone, from the Original Dill Pickle, which is a mild mixture akin to a dill dip, to the Spicy Pickle Dip, which kicks up the heat with hot cherry peppers. In between there’s a Dill Pickle With White Cheddar and Mustard, and a Roasted Tomato and Jalapeño. Each one has an assertive (but welcome) pickle presence, but the other additions (especially the cheddar and mustard) don’t compete with the pickle flavor, but enhance it instead.
We also found that not only are all of these delicious, but they have uses beyond dipping. The basic Dill Pickle makes a tasty alternative to mayo in tuna salad, while the Dill Pickle With White Cheddar and Mustard is not at all out of place on a hot dog or brat, or added to a charcuterie plate. Sandwiches, soups, scrambled eggs, tacos, even hot dish — all would benefit from a little Darling Pickle Dip.
For the past few decades, the Canadian city of Winnipeg has been home to only a couple of breweries (give or take a brief opening or closing). A law (akin to Minnesota’s so-called Surly Bill) was passed last year making it far easier to open a brewery in Manitoba, and Winnipeg is taking full advantage. Half a dozen breweries are now open in Winnipeg, and 20 brewery permits are currently awaiting approval.
Barn Hammer Brewing
Barn Hammer is Winnipeg’s first taproom, and it celebrates its one-year anniversary this month. Barn Hammer serves the majority of beer in its taproom in pints and growlers, and they distribute to several nearby restaurants. Co-owner Tyler Birch is often behind the bar, helping to make the beer even more approachable. He points out the challenges as well as the opportunities in the taproom model in an area unfamiliar with the concept. Barn Hammer strives to appeal to those new to craft beer while also satisfying the robust home-brewing community.
A case in point is the Big Water Gose ($4 for 10 ounces), a restrained version of the traditional German beer that is mildly tart and also contains salt. “We wanted to keep it appealing for everyone because it’s for charity,” says Birch. Part of the proceeds are donated to the Lake Winnipeg Foundation. Gose is a style gaining steam for its refreshing qualities without being truly sour, which is reflected perfectly in this example. A faint lime-zest quality meets bread crust with little lingering flavor.
Barn Hammer Brewing Company, 595 Wall St, Winnipeg, MB. Mon-Tue closed, Wed-Thu 4-10 p.m., Fri 3-11 p.m., Sat noon-11 p.m., Sun 2-6 p.m.
PEG Beer Co.
Each Friday, this list will track five of the best things Heavy Table’s writers, editors, and photographers have recently bitten or sipped. Have a suggestion for the Hot Five? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Hot Five is a weekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm.
Wild Columbia River Salmon at the Travel Portland Dinner at Upton 43
When Travel Portland comes to town, they travel in style, bringing an armload of Asian-influenced sauces and sides, plus ingredients like Dungeness crab and wild-caught salmon. The latter, served as part of a demonstration meal co-hosted by Chef Erick Harcey of Upton 43 and visiting Chef Gregory Gourdet of Portland’s Departure, was the boldest, purest, most intense cooked salmon we’ve ever tasted, a truly memorable piece of fish that stood amid a plate of thoughtfully paired, complementary ingredients although it really needed nothing whatsoever beyond its own inner beauty.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]
Sebastian Joe’s Cock-a-doodle Blue
It’s blue like the Otter Pops that used to stain your mouth when you were a kid. It’s smooth and chocolaty like a Hershey’s bar. It’s shot through with salty-crunchy pockets of sunflower seeds. And it’s got one of those names that makes you smile when you order it. It’s Cock-a-doodle Blue, Sebastian Joe’s flavor tribute to the new blue rooster that rules the roost at the Walker Sculpture Garden. And we hope it makes it onto the regular rotation, because this sort of cross-disciplinary municipal pride is what makes Minneapolis, Minneapolis.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Tricia Cornell]
Northshorebrød Smørrebrød from Northern Waters Restaurant
For years we’ve loved the sandwiches at the little Northern Waters shop in Duluth’s Canal Park; now the company has grown into a sit-down space a couple of miles inland and uphill, and the menu is a sophisticated mix of North Shore local and Scandinavian influenced. We dug the soft-spoken and savory Northshorebrød, an open-faced pumpernickel sandwich with gin-infused wild Alaskan king salmon gravlax, butter, cucumber, red onion, capers, hard-boiled egg, and dill mustard.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]
Carma Tonic from Carma Coffee
I’m always on the hunt for a not-sweet-but-still-refreshing beverage, and Carma Coffee in Minneapolis delivers with the Carma Tonic: two shots of espresso swirled with tonic water, a light touch of sweetener, and lemon. That’s a lot of bitter and tang, but just that little dab of sweetener soothes it enough without tipping it into the cloying range. Entirely refreshing, especially when enjoyed on a sunny day.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Amy Rea]
Fattoush From Milk Street Magazine
I want to eat this salad weekly (if not daily) and bring it to potlucks all summer long. An atypical Lebanese fattoush, it substitutes grapes marinated in cider vinegar for tomatoes. They’re tossed with lettuce, cucumber, mint, dill, and pita crisps (baked with oil, garlic, pepper flakes, and cumin). The yogurt dressing is spiked with sumac and turned sweetly pungent by pomegranate molasses. The recipe appears in Milk Street Magazine, for which our editors feel considerable enthusiasm.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Jane Rosemarin]
This post is sponsored by Chef Camp.
Join Chef Camp’s A-Team of chef-instructors (J.D. Fratzke of Bar Brigade, Brad Leone of Bon Appetít, Nettie Colón of Red Hen Gastrolab, Brian Merkel of Tullibee, Lukas Leaf of Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters, and Nick Kosevich of Bittercube) at YMCA Camp Miller this Sept. 8-10 for an all-inclusive long weekend of campfire cooking classes, feasting, craft coffee, canoeing, archery, and more.
The Chef Camp team is excited about the Fourth of July and all the outdoor time it brings! To celebrate, all tickets for Chef Camp are on sale, some more than 10 percent off! Get yours before July 5 with the code FIREWORKS at our online store.
Signs are beginning to point toward a renaissance in Northern barbecue. For years, even some respectable independent places have served food that would be laughed outside of the South — dried-out meat, flavorless bark, syrup-sweet sauces, warmed-up leftovers served instead of fresh ’cue, and one-dimensional sides barely worth tasting.
But a constant drumbeat of cultural praise has begun focusing the public’s mind on a few key facts about barbecue: It’s authentically American, with diverse roots. It’s accessible to all, affordable, and unpretentious. And when it’s done with time, love, and care, it’s as good as any dish served up at any white-tablecloth spot in the land. People from California to Maine are starting to take it seriously, and that’s creating a customer base for restaurants that do the stuff well.
We’ve written in brief about the excellent Texas-style brisket at StormKing barbecue just off of Nicollet Avenue. Also relatively new and worth a trip is the barbecue being served at OMC Smokehouse in Duluth.
OMC (that’s “oink/moo/cluck”) is a restaurant established by the founders of the well-regarded Duluth Grill. It’s located in the increasingly hot Lincoln Park neighborhood — we toured the Frost River factory after lunch, followed by a flight of beers at Bent Paddle‘s taproom, all three spots located within paces of one another.
And OMC is good. Not “good for Minnesota” good, but “good for a diner who had eaten top-flight barbecue in northern Florida and Asheville, N.C. mere weeks ago.” Which is to say that it would hold up just about anywhere.
The most remarkable dish that we tried was also one of the most unexpected: the restaurant’s Cheesy Jalapeño Grits ($4), which were so light they were ethereal, with cheese and jalapeño flavor dispersed evenly throughout. This side was more a high-concept savory bread pudding than what normally passes for grits in the north, which is to say a wet, sullen glop of glue. And while the flavor of jalapeños was present throughout, the heat level was tame-to-moderate, making it a dish that was easy to enjoy in volume (and at a fast pace).
Another standout side was the Creamy Classic Coleslaw ($3). This is a dish that gets phoned in and massacred at mid-level barbecue places everywhere. Not at OMC. We thought our slaw had just the right amount of rich-but-balanced creamy dressing, and that its fine, even, and delicate texture was a total delight.
The restaurant’s St. Louis-style ribs ($19 for a half rack) were firm but yielding, the meat clinging to the bone gently but not tenaciously. They were fully infused with a robust but measured smoke flavor, and were good enough to eat without a speck of sauce. Speaking of which, our table sported four house-made sauces, all of which were good, and can be tried by diners before the meal on the complimentary (and complementary) pork rinds brought to the table as an amuse bouche.
The Classic Honey BBQ sauce had a pleasant depth and lacked the sugary syrup quality that so many half-serious places offer up; the Bent Paddle 14° ESB BBQ beer-mustard sauce sported a decent kick and a malty backbone; and the Alabama White BBQ sauce veered hard toward horseradish (we’re used to a stronger black pepper presence) but nonetheless was savory and compelling. We just wish the restaurant’s Chipotle-Cilantro BBQ sauce with rhubarb had more kick; our waitress, who hailed from Chicago, described it as a “Minnesota 7, but a Chicago 2.” Minnesota is evolving, but even for this state, the heat level on this stuff wouldn’t crack a 4.
Speaking of heat, our Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich ($11.50) must have been a Nashville 8 at the very least. Without the accompanying blue-cheese dipping sauce, it was hard for us to choke down more than a couple of fiery bites, but with the sauce it was a thing of beauty — crispy, crunch, creamy, and spicy as Hell itself.
A review of a place like OMC wouldn’t be complete without a few words on hospitality, and here they are: The folks are really friendly. Our waitress sported an enthusiasm for the food and the concept that was wonderfully gung-ho. She had strong recommendations. She knew the menu inside out. She knew the story of the restaurant’s founding. She legitimately wanted to know how we liked our food, what we liked about it, and why. And none of this felt forced. This was just a case of talking with someone enthusiastic about a restaurant that’s clearly on a culinary crusade.
Other staff we talked to at OMC were similarly enthusiastic, and even during a workday lunch the restaurant was buzzing with customers. Do something really well, and people notice. In this case, OMC is helping to lead the charge toward a brighter tomorrow for Upper Midwestern barbecue.
Barbecue in Lincoln Park, Duluth
1909 West Superior St
Duluth, MN 55806
11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
BAR: Beer and wine
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED?: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Not so much
ENTREE RANGE: $12-$29
NOISE LEVEL: Moderate
PARKING: Lot and street parking