This post is sponsored by Nordic Ware.
Founded in 1946, Nordic Ware is a family-owned American manufacturer of an extensive line of quality cookware, bakeware, microwave and grilling products, and specialty kitchenware that is distributed worldwide. The Nordic Ware Factory Store is in St. Louis Park adjacent to the corporate headquarters and factory. The store features first-quality Nordic Ware products, kitchen tools, and accessories as well as Nordic Ware factory closeouts and irregulars. It’s also home to a contemporary demonstration kitchen where twice-monthly evening classes are held. Award winning local chefs, cookbook authors, and experienced cooking instructors teach cooking and baking techniques and sample delicious recipes. Find the class calendar online at https://www.nordicware.com/factory-store.
Half the size and twice the fun, Nordic Ware’s new Little Bundt® bakeware in signature gold gives you lots of beautiful options. Sometimes smaller is better.
Check out the Fall Harvest Bronze collection for beautiful harvest-themed bakeware and some of the spookiest Halloween cake pans you’ve ever seen.
In addition to its Gourmet Bundt® cake mixes, Nordic Ware has just introduced two new quick bread mixes — Salted Caramel and Pumpkin Spice, perfect for the new fall pans.
And for keeping your Bundt® pans in prime condition, be sure to get the new Ultimate Bundt® Cleaning Tool, perfect for getting every nook and cranny of your pans. Then keep them scratch-free in a soft muslin Bundt® Storage Bag.
Get the layer cake pans the pros use, now in an expanded range of six sizes for beautiful layered cakes or adorable mini cakes.
New microwave products make weeknight cooking quick and lunch packing easier. Look for the new Steam Cooker, Multi-Boiler™, Bento Soup ’R Mug®, and Bento Box.
If holiday baking is part of your tradition, but you can’t find grandma’s krumkake and rosette irons, you can always find new ones at Nordic Ware.
The seasons are slipping out of whack. Temperatures are fluctuating more wildly, and the number of massive weather events has been spiking since 1970. Amid the chaos, it’s not surprising that we seem to cling to seasonal rituals more tenaciously than ever. Society embraces everything from the primal switch to warmer fall clothing to the unbreakable curse of pumpkin-spiced everything.
Included in the landscape of seasonal transitions is the ritual of Oktoberfest beer, rooted in Germany but by now native to Minnesota. Märzen beers (so called because they were often brewed in March to be consumed in October) are traditionally full-bodied and toasty, malt forward and mildly hopped. Surly (offering up surly attitude as usual) participates in the ritual, but with a bitter twist: The brewery’s SurlyFest beer is a dry-hopped rye lager, and it’s really the rye that carries the weight of the beer’s flavor, not the malt. The beer is intensely spicy, earthy, and deeply flavored, and while it’s supported by a robust malt body, SurlyFest is more like drinking an aggressively flavored pumpernickel bread than sipping liquid malt candy.
Surly seems to know its place in the firmament of Minnesota breweries — always throwing elbows with big flavors. While still jovial enough to invite to the party, the 2017 edition of SurlyFest is no exception.
SurlyFest is an event as well as a beer; tickets are on sale for the Saturday, Sept. 23 party.
If you happen to be in the Brooklyn Park vicinity and in need of a quick meal, skip the strip mall Subway and Jimmy John’s. But don’t skip the strip mall entirely; instead, find the one with Fat Chance Sandwich Shop.
It doesn’t look like much from the outside, and the interior is fairly bare-bones, but on our visit, there was a steady flow of people lining up at the counter, waiting patiently for sandwiches made to order with ingredients either house-made (or, in the case of many of the meats, house-smoked) or sourced locally.
What’s more, Fat Chance is treating sandwiches with a great deal of care and respect, and as a result, they’re turning out something far better than their strip-mall neighbors. Most sandwiches are available as a half or whole; everything we tried was a half, and that was sizable enough to share. All come on a choice of white or wheat rolls from Denny’s Bakery. The bread was sturdy enough to hold the fillings but still maintain a tenderness and lightness that didn’t weigh the sandwiches down. The fillings include several choices of cheese as well as mayo, pickles, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, and tomatoes.
There’s also a house-made giardiniera that diners can add on their own, a worthwhile garnish of spicy pickled vegetables with olives and olive oil.
The Tractor ($8, half size only) was a mix of mild pulled pork, a zippy andouille sausage, and crunchy coleslaw. Our tasters were somewhat divided on this one; some felt that a more assertive barbecue flavor accompanying the pork would have been welcome, while others liked the simplicity of the meat. But all agreed that the pork was beautifully cooked, tender, and succulent.
The Mother Clucker ($6 half, $10 whole) was a solid hit. The chicken was crispy on the outside and nicely seasoned, but juicy on the inside. That combo, along with the soft bread and crunchy vegetables, was a world of textures in a bite that brought the lowly sandwich into a more sublime category.
The real winner was the Haystack ($7.50 half, $12.50 whole), made of layers of tender, thin-sliced pastrami and pepper jack cheese, along with a spicy mustard. The pastrami was leaner than usual and not as heavily peppered, but it had a good smoky, beefy flavor that held its own against the spicier additions. With the aforementioned giardiniera it was pretty much perfect.
The sandwiches came with a big mess of French fries that were delightful. Fries are so easy to get wrong, and Fat Chance deftly avoids the multitude of possible errors by making crispy-on-the-outside, soft-and-pillowy inside fries that are served with a house-made dipping sauce that has mayo, sriracha, and a secret house seasoning. You could make a meal out of those alone.
We weren’t planning on trying dessert — expectations were fairly low for the “dessert in a sandwich shop” offerings — but when we saw the “Have some life-changing cake” item on the menu for only $3, of course we had to try it. Said life-changing cake turned out to be a simple yellow cake with a brown sugar icing, not overly sweet, but fresh and light. Was it life-changing? Not in the “Won the lottery, quit my job, bought homes all across the world and a private plane to get to them” way. But in an “Oh, this brings me back to the cakes my grandma used to make from scratch as a treat for me that made me feel loved” way? Yes indeed, for a few brief moments, that piece of cake made life a little better.
It’s worth noting that Fat Chance offers a soul-food menu on Friday nights and all day Saturdays that includes fried chicken and catfish and a number of sides, such as collard greens. Given the stellar fried chicken in the sandwich, we suspect that a trip there on the weekend could be worth the drive.
Fat Chance, 8419 W Broadway Ave, Brooklyn Park, 763.283.5100; Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
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 email@example.com.
The Hot Five is a weekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm.
The Kingfield Gobbler at Sun Street Breads
If you enjoy leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches, you’ll likely dig the Kingfield Gobbler. There’s really not much too it — just a mound of super juicy pulled turkey, mayo, and veg on a wheat bun. It’s simple comfort food at its best. Pro-tip: Order a side of barbecue sauce to add a little zip.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Joshua Page]
Masa Cake at Restaurant Alma
I’ve been reading Daniel Patterson’s The Art of Flavor. It’s about how flavors, textures, cooking methods, and other factors play off one another. The masa cake at Restaurant Alma is an example of how it works. The cake itself has a creamy center — but not without a bite — and a surface that’s fried crisp. The smoked chicken and the mole share their warm, deep flavors, while the cilantro and pickled onions add a sharp brightness. Altogether this was a deft combination of numerous excellent ingredients disguised as a simple, comforting dish.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Jane Rosemarin]
Mini-Pop Tarts by Duluth’s Best Bread at Chef Camp
If you’re starting camp at 6:30 in the morning, as some guests at Chef Camp do, you need something with a bit of sweetness and substance to help you into the waking world. Enter the mini “pop tart,” cooked on site by the guest bakers of Duluth’s Best Bread. These jam-filled, iced pastries are surprisingly light and delicate, with none of the cardboardlike bulk of their commercial namesakes. These seemingly humble pastries were shockingly good.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]
French Fries at Fat Chance
Brooklyn Park’s Fat Chance is known for its sandwiches (which we’ll tell you about on Monday), but it should also be noted that they know a thing or two about French fries. Lightly crispy on the outside, hot and fluffy on the inside, and served with a house-made dipping sauce that involves mayo and sriracha, these are worth the trip all by themselves.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted from a review to appear Monday by Amy Rea]
Blissful Ignorance Double IPA by Lupulin Brewing
The appropriately named Blissful Ignorance double IPA by Big Lake’s Lupulin Brewing is an excellent example of the style. The taste and aroma (even from an unsanctioned kind of glass, tsk, tsk) is a delightful blend of tropical fruit and pine that all but masks the 9.0 percent ABV. If you are having only one beer with your video games, technical manuals, or whatever helps you relax at the end of a long day, this is a mighty fine choice.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Ted Held]
Besieged by hype about Bellecour (and its bakery) we made our way out to Wayzata a couple of weekends ago to snag a breakfast of pastries and coffee. If you know good bakeries, you know the feeling we had when we walked into Bellecour — it was a Patisserie 46 feeling, a Rustica feeling, a Bachelor Farmer feeling — that sense that everything in the shop had a crisp, buttery, just-so thing going on, and that every bite was going to be good. An assortment of baked goods proved that feeling correct, but the plain old croissant was the best of a lovable bunch.
A really great croissant is almost a contradiction — soft and buttery yet cunningly woven from seemingly hundreds of distinct crispy, crunchy, delicate layers of pastry. It almost disintegrates in your mouth, crumbling and melting with every bite. It’s one of the best foods humanity’s yet devised, but it doesn’t come easy — making a really good croissant takes time, patience, and technique, and from tasting the croissant at Bellecour it’s evident that they have plenty of all three.
Bellecour is a long drive for me (about 25 minutes), and there are equally good versions of everything they do in Minneapolis proper, which isn’t hurting for good bakeries. Except … the croissant. The croissant is going to be the siren song that takes me an hour out of my way, sometime soon, to taste those buttery layers again.