This post is sponsored by Chef Camp, a three-day culinary retreat amid the woods and water of Sturgeon Lake, MN.
This spring, join 2017 Chef Camp chef instructors Vincent Francoual and Yia Vang for a limited series of cooking classes at the Food Building in Minneapolis.
Chefs Vincent and Yia will demonstrate technique and tell stories about food and cooking all while using artisan ingredients from Food Building producers including Red Table Meats and Bakers Field Flour & Bread. Classes are $25 and include multiple hearty tastes of food prepared by your instructor.
Chef Camp Cooks! attendees will receive a discount code good for $25 off of a Chef Camp ticket.
MARCH 9, 6-7:30 p.m.: Jambon Royale with Vincent Francoual
Vincent will demonstrate the uses of jambon royale (uncured ham) with arugula, a cured fat croustade, and a cheese curd soffrito. He’ll also teach Pain Perdu (AKA French Toast) using Baker’s Field brioche, baked apples, and bacon-whiskey jam.
Yia will share techniques for making a world-class fried rice dish using Red Table Meats and charred veggies, topped with a fried duck egg and ricotta cheese. The dish brings together flavors of sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami tastes.
VINCENT FRANCOUAL serves as the Culinary Director for Cara Irish Pubs. Vincent worked under famed chef Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin, a 4-star New York Times and 3-star Michelin-rated restaurant. He also owned and operated Vincent A Restaurant in Minneapolis, a local favorite for 15 years before he closed the restaurant in 2015 to venture into his current role.
YIA VANG is the proprietor of the pop-up restaurant Union Kitchen. He was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and his father and mother moved their family to the US in 1988. While working in some of the foremost kitchens of Minneapolis (including Nighthawks, Borough, and Spoon and Stable) he began to find his own voice in showcasing Hmong food.
CHEF CAMP is a three-day gastronomic retreat held at YMCA Camp Miller from Sep. 1-3, 2017. It includes camp activities, feasting, and culinary instruction taught by some of the region’s most talented chefs. For tickets and more information, visit chefcampmn.com.
THE FOOD BUILDING in Northeast Minneapolis is home to some of the Upper Midwest’s most noteworthy food artisans including Red Table Meat Company, Baker’s Field Flour & Bread, and Lone Grazer Creamery.
Some time in the mid 1990s, the Original Coney Island Cafe and Bar in St. Paul abruptly went dark. A sign posted in the window said that the restaurant was closed due to family illness. The sign stayed there for years, but the space remained untouched and looking like they could reopen at any minute. Since they closed, I’ve pressed my face against the window 1,000 times wishing/hoping it would reopen. Well, they finally did…for one day earlier this month during the St. Paul Winter Carnival. We got there early and stood in a line with the diehards that stretched down the block an hour before they opened…everyone waiting for a taste of that famous Coney dog and a peek at space that’s been frozen in time. Sometimes dreams really do come true.
(Top: The line stretched out the door and down the block. And see the original-sized illustrations on WACSO’s website, in gallery #31.)
There are 2 distinct sides to the Original Coney Island…the “cafe” side, and the “bar” side. Walk through a fenced doorway with a sign reminding you that children are NOT allowed in the bar area and the space goes from a very diner-like space with stools at a counter, to a very bar-like space with stools at a bar.
The bar side.
The cafe side.
The old bar gets a workout.
Enjoying the original.
People couldn’t believe what they were seeing: an “open” sign.
Left: Preparing the Coneys. Right: Mustard is key to a good Coney dog / the dogs / satisfied customers.
I’m assuming she’s the daughter of the original owners…she kept saying how happy her mother would have been to see so many people lined up down the street for the dogs.
To toot our own horn just a little bit, the Heavy Table / Wedge Community Co-op / Food Building North Coast Nosh local sip-and-sample is always an invigorating and thought-provoking event. With last Thursday’s Nosh at the Food Building behind us, the blur of smiling (and chewing) faces, the whirlwind of information from purveyors and conversations with friends, and most of all, the mind-numbing variety of tastes (an exemplary gathering of beers and spirits, meats and cheese, breads and broths, coffees and chocolates) crystallizes into a few themes. The most over-arching of which is that there is an immense variety of locally crafted comestibles and beverages, and a mind-boggling quantity of quality thought going into all of it.
There were bagels, two kinds. We’ve been raving about Rise Bagel Co. since the Lloyd sisters first started showing up at farmers markets. Their classic bagels have a chewy exterior and a soft interior as good as any bagel out east. Baker’s Field Flour and Bread, a Food Building tenant held the home field advantage. Their bagels were breadier, and tasted slightly sour, like a starter was involved and shared a lot of the rustic, wholesome character of their excellent breads. We talked to people who preferred one or the other – two excellent local choices and something for everybody.
We tasted two coffee stouts: Tin Whiskers’ Tiny Circuit tasted profoundly of (Tiny Footprint, pictured above) coffee, to the point that you could forget that you’re drinking stout. Fulton Beer’s War and Peace was more balanced with (Peace) coffee and malt hitting the tongue in turn. Sour beer seems to be finally reaching critical mass. Fair State, known for their sour program, poured Roselle, light, aromatic, and eminently drinkable; Bricoleur #4, a funkier sour complicated by a hoppy aroma; and Lichtenhainer: with smoke and sour in equal balance, it’s almost a think piece (we’ve had Lichtenhainer at the tap room and after tasting it again, we’re still not sure if we like it). Indeed Brewing poured their Wooden Soul #9, a wood barrel aged sour poured over fresh raspberries for a final fermentation stage. It was rare, aromatic, fruity, and drinkable all day long. Hopheads take note: of the four brewers at the Nosh, not one of them poured an IPA.
Members of the Chef Camp team were also at the Nosh, talking about their Sep. 1-3 wilderness culinary retreat at YMCA Camp Miller. The event features feasting, camp activities, and chef-led instruction, and is all inclusive (lodging, food, beverages, classes, activities) for attendees. (See our feature about last year’s camp here.)
Like a giant charcuterie plate, the Common Room table offered Red Table Meat Company meats, Lone Grazer Creamery cheeses, and Baker’s Field breads. But if you didn’t stop to talk to Red’s Mike Phillips, you might have missed one of the best tastes of the night: salami made with ten percent liver that was soft, fatty, and delicious. Lone Grazer offered cheeses that ran the gamut from the kid-friendly fresh curds to the more adult-friendly aged cheeses.
To the side of the table, Redhead Creamery had left the kid-friendly cheese at home. We swooned for their crumbly (admittedly a little young for show time) Little Lucy brie and a rich, funky North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster that was ironically more brie-like in character. Both of their cheddars – garlic and plain – were outstanding.
Dumpling and Strand was in the house with a new, wild rice-based soba noodle appropriately named Minnesoba. As it turns out, the earthy, nutty flavor of wild rice and the earthy, nutty flavor of traditional buckwheat soba noodles have a lot in common, and the adaptation feels like a loving, locally made homage.
Bitter was big. As you entered the Nosh, you were immediately faced with dessert. Mademoiselle Miel offered a honey bon-bon made with a 100% cacao shell. The extreme sweetness of pure honey and extreme bitterness of pure chocolate made a beautifully balanced taste. Anelace Coffee and Spyhouse Coffee Roasters both poured lovely and similar African coffees that were pleasantly bitter, with green apple tartness, and Tiny Footprint Coffee was on hand to tell their carbon-negative sourcing and roasting story.
Bitters are big too. Bittercube Bitters showcased their diversity with the fruit flavored Abyss Sling, and the medicinal El Nordico. Far North Spirits showcased their Roknar rye whiskey, grown and distilled on the family farm way up north in Hallock, in the form of a punchy sazerac, with the aroma of bitters and citrus.
As for the rest of it, we loved Grlk’s gravity-defying airy sauces; Dumpling and Strand’s perfectly salted, chewy fettuccine; the obviously super-fresh vegetables and chicken in Draft Horse’s piping hot pot pies; the restorative complexity of Taking Stock’s chicken broth; Superior Switchel’s gingery introduction to old farmers’ favorite made new again (and the next kombucha?); and the proprietor of North Mallow’s willingness to bring his marshmallow-toasting four-burner spread to a Boundary Waters lake of our choice, if we cover the travel cost, so that we can enjoy the toasted sugary cubes on trail, and in luxury.
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.
Butternut Squash Daiquiri at Cafe Alma
A butternut squash cocktail doesn’t sound like something you would want to order, especially in favor of the other great cocktail choices on Cafe Alma’s menu, but this one is worth trying. The squash notes are subtle, but add a wonderful earthiness to the drink. There is a burst of lemon for freshness and acidity, which balances the mild sweetness of the squash. If that isn’t enough, the drink is served in an adorable hollowed gourd, and topped with a velvety sage leaf, making it one of the best looking cocktails around.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Varsha Koneru]
Moon Tea from Sacred Blossom Farm
Tony DiMaggio grows, dries, and blends the herbs that go into Sacred Blossom tea at the Gilmanton, Wisconsin farm of the same name. We tried the lavender- and chamomile-forward Moon blend and found it to be profoundly soothing – it’s a bright floral touch of summer, and lacks any of the dusty or weedy notes that sometimes mar herbal teas. You can order this local brew via the farm’s Kickstarter campaign, which wraps up in about week. Dogwood Coffee and The Produce Exchange at Midtown Global Market will also begin carrying retails packs of Sacred Blossom tea next week.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]
Beef Tagine at Moroccan Flavors
A speedy, elegant lunch from a warming tray? Yes. In the heart of the Midtown Global Market, you can get an authentic, slow-cooked tagine. The beef is rich, sweet and mildly spicy, served with apricots, prunes and almonds over rice. Or choose chicken and squash, served over couscous.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Bruce Manning]
Cry Baby Burger from Jimmy’s Billiards
The Cry Baby Burger from Jimmy’s Billiards is as feisty as its name sounds. Jalapeño peppers, pepper Jack cheese, and a small but mighty dose of hot sauce will clear those sinuses in no time. Spring for the sour cream for the fries as a heat-reducing dairy product.
[Last Week on the Hot Five: #4 | Submitted by Amy Rea]
Apple, Grilled Cabbage and Prosciutto Salad at Burch
This salad was a nice balance of sweet, tart, and slightly salty … an excellent complement to most of the rich menu items at Burch. “Grilled cabbage” suggests a salty and/or smokey flavor profile, but there was no hint of the grilling in either taste or temperature. Below the mound of green apple bites and shredded cabbage was a generous layer of thinly sliced prosciutto. A touch of olive oil, salt, pepper, and a few chives on top enhanced each of the individual flavors.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Brenda Johnson]
For the time being, at least, there is no escaping sexy food. Go to Instagram, and you’ll see an endless parade of the same essential dish, over and over again – manicured, impeccable, adorable, gleaming in natural light, made with exotic ingredients, bespangled with foams and brunoised bits, beckoning to you for a mere $9-12 (appetizer) or $16-23 (entree). Food in the age of high-quality camera phones is to be photographed and disseminated as much as it is to be eaten, and we’re all paying a price for that.
Let’s get unsexy for a moment. Let’s get horribly, brutally, unfashionably sexy. The housemade meatloaf at Everett’s is $4.29 a pound, and it comes in a brutal-looking little tinfoil loaf pan. The one that we brought home ($6.50’s worth) could have easily fed a family of four – it was nothing more than a brick of nourishing, full-flavored, herbally seasoned meaty classic goodness, sexy as a tree stump, and fashionable as Cheez Whiz. There may not even be other food words as homely and uninteresting as “meatloaf” – it’s no coincidence that an abomination known as nutraloaf is regarded as one of the least humane punishments in the American prison system, which has no shortage of humiliations and pain to inflict upon its charges.
But here’s the thing: This is cheap food made with care. This is cheap food that you can tuck into with relish, with ketchup, or pickles, or Worcestershire sauce, or with spaghetti sauce on pasta, or as part of a sandwich or wrap. Think of a good meatloaf as a well-made meatball, scaled up and baked into a pan, and treat it as such. It’s not the end of your dining choices, it’s a point of departure. If you make it yourself, the varieties and customization are nearly infinite. If you buy it at Everett’s you’ll be dining on pure comfort, and you’ll do it for less than an order of fries at more than a few local restaurants.
Everett’s is a local treasure, with a meat section that’s a throwback to a time when not only did butchers know their trade, but they got you your dinner for a reasonable price. When we’re not at Everett’s picking up meatloaf, we’re buying high quality frozen turkeys in order to celebrate Thanksgiving in February or obtaining some of the best (and best-priced) ribeyes in town to throw on a grill.
Everett’s Foods and Meats, 1833 E. 38th St., Minneapolis, 612.729.6626