New from James Beard Cookbook Hall of Famer Beatrice Ojakangas

This post is sponsored by the University of Minnesota Press.

Breakfast with Beatrice: 250 Recipes from Sweet Cream Waffles to Swedish Farmer’s Omelets

Breakfast may be, as some say, the most important meal—but not unless it’s the best tasting. With the help of James Beard Cookbook Hall of Famer Beatrice Ojakangas, that is precisely what breakfast will be. With recipes drawn from her storied career and honed in her home kitchen, Breakfast with Beatrice prepares the cook—seasoned veteran or novice—to make breakfast the perfect start to every day.

Becca Dilley Photography

Sweet or savory, classic or surprising, fancy or short order, these are breakfasts for every occasion, with simple ingredients, straightforward instructions, and the occasional anecdote (Veterinarian’s Breakfast, anyone?). Whip up a smoothie on the go. Chill a parfait overnight for a ready-made morning treat. Dress up good, old-fashioned porridge for a hot and hearty start to the day. Make a meal of the smorrebrod, a breakfast sandwich favored in Denmark, with anything from cheese and fruit to smoked fish and meat piled on a slice of crusty bread. Whether you favor a grain-rich loaf or a handy quick bread, or a sweet treat like Cardamom Coffee Braid or an elaborate Danish pastry, these recipes will satisfy your morning palate. For more leisurely breakfasts (or for dinner when it’s kids’ choice), there are pancakes and mouth-watering cream waffles to warm the heart. From quiches and casseroles to waffles with berries, Breakfast with Beatrice is a treasury of recipes worth waking up for.

Please join us for the launch of Breakfast with Beatrice on Saturday, May 5 at the American Swedish Institute. (More information here)

With the help of James Beard Cookbook Hall of Famer Beatrice Ojakangas, breakfast will be not only the most important meal of the day, but the best tasting. With recipes drawn from her storied career and honed in her home kitchen, Breakfast with Beatrice prepares the cook—seasoned veteran or novice—to make breakfast the perfect start to every day.

Nordic: Photographs by Magnus Nilsson, chef at Faviken and author of The Nordic Cookbook

Tricia Cornell / Heavy Table
Tricia Cornell / Heavy Table

At Fäviken, Magnus Nilsson’s restaurant 400 miles north of Stockholm, the prix fixe tasting menu involves (among many other exquisitely, obsessively local things) lichen, raw cow’s heart, vegetables cooked over “autumn leaves,” foraged scallops smoked over juniper branches, pig’s blood, and cow’s colostrum.

His first book, also called Fäviken, is not, then, really a cookbook. It’s another way to experience a restaurant that only a dozen people a night can enjoy, and only at great expense and through great good fortune. (You want reservations? Good luck.) It’s an invitation to think differently about food and flavors and where those things come from, divorced entirely from the modern need to put dinner on the table every night, and yet knotted tightly to the way people in the north of Sweden and Norway once survived.

Tricia Cornell / Heavy Table
Tricia Cornell / Heavy Table

Naturally, then, when I picked up Nilsson’s second book, The Nordic Cookbook ($50, Phaidon), the dish I immediately decided to make was Flygande Jakob — Flying Jacob. It became something of an obsession: roast chicken, a packet of dried Italian dressing mix, whipped heavy cream, Heinz chili sauce (apparently, the brand is important), peanuts, bacon, and — this delights me no end — bananas.

Flygande Jakob. It’s ridiculous. It’s crazy processed — an absolute salt bomb, by the way. It’s childishly exotic. It comes from an entirely different planet than does smoked reindeer lichen. And it proves that Swedes, all this new Nordic artistry notwithstanding, are just like us. (Milk-cheeked children eating nothing but berries and salmon and rye crackers after hiking the fjords — pshaw.)

Of course they are. I knew that. You knew that. But how wonderful it is to see it proven in a casserole that would be right at home next to a Jell-O salad.

Tricia Cornell / Heavy Table
Tricia Cornell / Heavy Table

When I asked some friends in Sweden and Finland to confirm that such a thing as Flygande Jakob existed, one replied, “Sadly, yes.” And the other, a Finn, presented it as evidence of Swedes’ “adorable weirdness.” (It had crossed my mind that this recipe was somehow akin to Van Halen’s touring rider requiring that all brown M&Ms be removed from the green room: a way of testing out who had actually read the book.)

Nilsson himself describes Flygande Jakob with gentle, nostalgic love in the recipe header:

“This dish is one that every Swede who grew up after 1980 has a relationship with, and most of those growing up before too for that matter. … The combination of chicken, cream, Heinz chili sauce, salted peanuts and one of Sweden’s most cherished fruits, the banana, is truly spectacular and one of the strongest lasting cultural expressions of the early 1980s, at least in my opinion. … Serve flygande Jakob with white rice, shredded iceberg lettuce and cucumber (no vinegar, please), then lean back, close your eyes, and pretend you are me eating in 1989 and enjoy yourself.”

Dot’s Pretzels

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

We first learned of Dot’s Pretzels of North Dakota when compiling our annual Holiday Gift Guide late last year. The shop at the American Swedish Institute carried them, which didn’t seem like a logical choice for a gift shop focused on Swedish heritage, but the cashier told us that regardless of Swedish relevance they were flying out of the store.

And still are. A recent visit to buy more pretzels ($8 for a 1-pound bag) after we ate the first test batch — because, you know, eating one pound of pretzels wasn’t quite enough proof of how delicious they were, so we thought it prudent to buy two more pounds just to be sure — found that people are just as crazy about them after the holidays as they were before. While carrying around two bags of pretzels and looking at other items, we were stopped twice by shoppers wanting to know where the pretzels were, and the cashier told us that someone had purchased six bags earlier that day.

What’s the deal with Dot’s? They’re crazy addictive, that’s what. The little twisty sticks pack a bit of a punch, with a complex flavor reminiscent of ranch dressing (no doubt due to the buttermilk) as well as garlic, onion, and what tastes like cayenne and black pepper (buried under “spices” on the ingredient label). They’re generously salted, and have a good crunch and a slightly denser center than the run-of-the-mill pretzel, with the spicier flavors coming in after a few bites. By “spicy,” we’re talking Minnesota nice (or maybe North Dakota nice?), so not at all overwhelming, just a little afterburn. They’re a much better version of the various homemade ranch pretzel recipes in that the flavor is baked in, rather than just coating the outside.

The Swedish Institute was not sure how long they would continue to carry the pretzels, so it’s best to call ahead. If they don’t have them, you can check the where-to-buy list on Dot’s website. At the time of this writing, the only other Twin Cities locations on the list were the Methodist Hospital Gift Shop in St. Louis Park and Nicollet Ace Hardware in Minneapolis. (Yes, Dot’s has an eclectic array of retail outlets.) There are quite a few outstate areas that sell them, and you can also order them from the Dot’s website. If you’re going with the latter, take our advice: Order the 2-pound party bag. You won’t regret it.


Cocktails at Fika, Nutmeg Brewhouse Opens, Lawless Gin

Banner for the Toast: Drinking Well in the Upper MidwestIn this toast, we discover a Swedish cocktail program, visit Burnsville’s Nutmeg Brewhouse, and sip Lawless Gin.

IMG_0743Cocktails at Fika

A sunny Scandinavian cafe attached to a historic mansion-gone-museum may not scream “cocktails,” but let surprise be the secret ingredient at Fika, located in the modern addition to the American Swedish Institute.

Known for its lunch and brunch items, Fika — along with its small selection of well-executed classic and modern Nordic fare — often appears on local “best-of” lists. Open face sandwiches, pastries, and cured salmon make up the more predictable hits. But our most recent visit unexpectedly uncovered drinks that deserve recognition as well.

Echoing the flavors on the plate, the drink list includes mostly classic combinations with elements of fruit, brine, and acid. The descriptions are quite simple, but the execution and balance is striking.

Becca Dilley / Minnesota Lunch
Becca Dilley / Minnesota Lunch

The clean and refreshing Swedish 75 is made with Gamle Ode Dill Aquavit and presents a wonderful combination of savory and citrus elements. The alcohol is not subtle by any means, making this bright drink perfect for a cold winter day, even though the ingredients sound more like spring. Additionally, the drink pairs excellently with fish, cutting through the oils but remaining complementary in its herbal notes. The carbonation, too, lightens up heavier meatballs and vinaigrette.

The newest addition to the cocktail list is quickly becoming the most popular. In the Solveig & Tonic, fresh ginger is muddled into Far North Solveig gin, bringing out an incredible depth of ginger flavor. Orange bitters and lemon simple syrup round out the infusion, making the whole thing far more complex than the sum of its parts.

For brunch-goers: Look out for the beautiful Bloody Swede, a take on the Bloody Mary, but with the earthy notes and striking color that only beets can bring. North Shore Aquavit, made just north of Chicago using caraway, cumin, and coriander, grounds the glass with a substantial punch. The unexpected, savory arrival of cardamom is a clear reminder of the Scandinavian surroundings, and the understated garnish of pickled onions and olives is a minimalistic pleasure rather than the prima donna of so many American versions.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Nutmeg Brewhouse

The first brewery to open in Minnesota in 2016 is also the only brewery for miles. Far in distance and vibe from the historic and repurposed Northeast Minneapolis, the south metro can now experience four of its own craft beers — paired with food of the British Commonwealth — at Burnsville’s Nutmeg Brewhouse.

If the name, the location, and the food don’t fit naturally into the craft brewery mold for many, we would agree. The mission, according to the owners, is to bring food from around the world together by way of British beer. And given the fact that Nutmeg was founded by two men of Indian descent and culinary experience, MP Singh and Balbir Singh (not related), some of the disparate elements start to come together.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Throw in head brewer Dave Jones, however, and the picture becomes less clear. Jones has no ties to Minnesota, British cuisine, or the brewpub model. The three came together online, Jones explained to our team: He had been drafting his own plans to start a brewery, while Singh and Singh were searching for a head brewer. With no professional experience, Jones found himself in Minnesota crafting beer for the enterprising duo.

Nordic Inspired, American Made at the American Swedish Institute

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

The American Swedish Institute has teamed up with Nordic Ware to present Nordic Inspired, American Made, an exhibit on the history of the locally based kitchen equipment manufacturer. It’s the first installation to be displayed in the Turnblad Mansion’s historic kitchen, which opened to the public in late 2013. The show has been so popular that its closing, originally scheduled for early January, was moved to April 26.

Krista Ulman, interpretive services planner for the ASI, said that as the annual Christmas table-setting displays were being planned for 2014, the theme became how heritage and design influenced one another. “We wanted to work with local artists and immediately thought of Nordic Ware,” she said.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Nordic Ware was founded in 1946 by Dotty and Dave Dalquist when Dave returned from service in World War II. Dave was educated as a chemical and metallurgical engineer, but didn’t want to work for anyone else. While considering his options, he uncovered an unfilled need in the marketplace: despite living in a center of Scandinavian culture, Midwesterners really had no place to go to buy Scandinavian baking and cooking equipment, which was hard to come by in the 1940s and ’50s. With his metallurgical background, Dalquist had the expertise to recreate much-loved items like krumkake and rosette irons, and he eventually moved on to everyday utensils, like griddles. Early sales of these items were heavily dependent on mail-order ads in foreign language newspapers.

Dalquist’s granddaughter Jenny is a third-generation Nordic Ware employee who points to the company’s initial ethnic focus as being the inspiration for one of its most iconic pans, the Bundt. “The roots of the Bundt pan are in a German / Austrian pan called a Gugelhupf,” she said. “Like krumkake irons, they were hard to obtain here. So my grandfather made them, and then made the variation known as the Bundt.”

Heavy Table Hot Five: Nov. 28-Dec. 4


Each Friday afternoon, 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

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

Matzo Ball Soup at Meritage

Matzo ball soup at Meritage is basically the perfect antidote to winter weather- the broth is deeply flavored and warming, the matzo balls somehow both light and richly substantial. [Debuting on the Hot Five]

Tweeted by James Norton

Amy Rea / Heavy Table
Amy Rea / Heavy Table

Glogg at Fika at the American Swedish Institute

The Swedish Institute has its seasonal glogg at Fika. Rich, well spiced, hearty, comforting. Made with wine, but unlike some bad versions, where it’s made of cheap wine mixed with spice and microwaved, this tasted like a decent quality wine, gently simmered. [Debuting on the Hot Five]

Contributed by Amy Rea

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

3-newChicken Liver Tart at Heyday

The Chicken Liver Tart at Heyday is just incredible. Beautifully rich mousse inside a dainty little pie shell, topped with a forest of greenery — none of which I recognized by name — that delivers a prickly textural contrast as well as a fresh overtone that pierces the sweet meatiness of the mousse. I’ll have one of those and a glass of pinot noir for the classiest nightcap Lyn-Lake has to offer. [Last week on the Hot Five: #1]

Contributed by John Garland

Jason Walker / Heavy Table
Jason Walker / Heavy Table

Pork Belly at Borough

Borough’s perfectly cooked pork belly atop a celery root pancake is an architectural plate worth not sharing. In a classic combination, apple butter complements the pork in a modern and contrasting manner, with hazelnuts rounding out the flavor. Pair with a bottled cocktail — we suggest the Fernet Me Not with spicy sarsaparilla. [Last week on the Hot Five: #4]

Contributed by Paige Latham

Joshua Page / Heavy Table
Joshua Page / Heavy Table

5-newRam-Toria-Aaloo at The Himalayan

Want to convert the okra skeptics in your life? Order this dish of fried okra and potatoes seasoned with Nepalese spices. It’s smoky, crisp, and brilliantly spiced. [Last Week on the Hot Five: #5]

Contributed by Joshua Page

North Coast Nosh X: The Recap

Natalie Champa Jennings / Heavy Table
Natalie Champa Jennings / Heavy Table

We at Heavy Table do what we do because we love informing our readers about the very best that local eating has to offer. These brewers, bakers, caterers, restaurateurs, distillers, farmers, cheesemakers, and entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of a culinary scene that we hold dear. So when a hungry crowd of hundreds fills the American Swedish Institute to sample and sip from these great purveyors, it’s enormously gratifying to see the conversations, the questions, the smiling, and the swooning. So thank you to all who attended for being part of a great evening. A recap of the sights and bites:

The 10th edition of the North Coast Nosh got underway with the Pre-Nosh — a limited engagement with four in-depth presentations and special tastes. First, Birchwood Cafe talked up the stellar, non-homogenized dairy from Kalona SuperNatural. Together, they demonstrated how to drain the whey from their full-fat yogurt to make it Greek-style and passed around some lamb meatballs with a parsley-lemon yogurt for dipping. If you need a savory waffle fix while Birchwood is under construction, head over to Verdant Tea starting March 1 for their breakfast pop-up.

Natalie Champa Jennings / Heavy Table
Natalie Champa Jennings / Heavy Table

The lamb from those meatballs came from Shepherd’s Way Farms (above, bottom left), and that’s where the Pre-Nosh went next. Jodi Ohlsen Read offered a tutorial on mold — how the unique orange spotting affects the flavor of her nutty, expressive 18-month-aged Burr Oak, and how to pierce the blocks of her Big Woods Blue to achieve the proper veining.

Announcing North Coast Nosh X at The American Swedish Institute

Kate NG Sommers / Kate NG Sommers / Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Tickets are now available for the tenth edition of the North Coast Nosh sip and sample, which takes place Sunday, Feb. 23 at the American Swedish Institute’s new Nelson Cultural Center from 4-7pm. We can’t wait to welcome our guests and introduce you to more than 30 bakers, brewers, cheesemakers, and more from Minnesota and Wisconsin.


We’re also throwing a special party before the party for guests who want to dive deeply into the world of local food and drink. Four of our vendors will be offering some in-depth Q&A, storytelling, and special tastes to our early attendees. Your Pre-Nosh ticket helps support these local food heroes. Please arrive promptly at 2:30pm so we can start the show on time, and get ready to meet (in series) four of the most interesting creators of food or drink in the Upper Midwest.

The North Coast Nosh X Pre-Nosh features Far North Spirits with Easy & Oskey, Kalona SuperNatural with Birchwood Cafe, Shepherd’s Way Farms, and TeaSource.


The secret behind the Nosh is simple: We fight to ensure that guests and purveyors have a great experience. That means we limit the number of tickets sold and we hand select the purveyors to feature the best of creative, local food. Guests can sample freely and comfortably, and purveyors can actually meet our guests and talk about their food and drink.


The exact mix always varies, but expect artisan cheese, craft beer, lovingly created baked goods and candies, fine charcuterie, and some creative and playful newcomers. A full list of participants will be listed on our site. By the time you’ve left the event, you will have enjoyed an edible snapshot of the best the Upper Midwest has to offer.


No. Your ticket allows you access to sample all of the food and drink on site, generally one bite-sized morsel at a time. Purveyors pay no fee to participate. Money raised from ticket sales supports our non-profit partner (in this case, the American Swedish Institute) and the Heavy Table’s mission of documenting food and drink in the Upper Midwest.

We’ll see you at the Nosh!

North Coast Nosh X at the American Swedish Institute’s Nelson Cultural Center
Sunday, February 23, 4-7pm, 2600 Park Ave S, Minneapolis, MN

Ticket price ($26.90 or $53.80 for the Pre-Nosh) includes free samples of food and drink; attendees must be 21 years of age or older and have valid ID. Tickets are available through Eventbrite — they can be printed out or displayed at the door on a smartphone.

Confirmed vendors for North Coast Nosh X (out of 30+ expected)*:
Alemar Cheese Company
Ames Farm
Annie B’s Candy
Bang Brewing
Birchwood Cafe
Brasserie Zentral
Buddy’s Nut Butters
Caves of Faribault
Cedar Summit Farm
Cocoa & Fig
Cool Jerk
Corner Table
Easy & Oskey
Empire Coffee and Pastry
Far North Spirits
Golden Fig
Indeed Brewing
Izzy’s Ice Cream

Joia Soda
Just Add Beer Bread
Kalona SuperNatural
Norseman Distillery
Lucid Brewing
Peace Coffee
Petite Sweets Pastries
Serious Jam
Shepherd’s Way Farms
Slate & Stone at the American Swedish Institute
Sunrise Creative Gourmet
Sweet Science Ice Cream
Three Rivers Farm Maple Syrup
Triple Crown BBQ Sauce
Verdant Tea

*Final lineup is usually close to expected lineup, but vendors may be added or deleted as circumstances dictate.

Past Heavy Table Events

February 9, 2010: From Open Flames to Sous Vide: A Dinner
February 17, 2010: Heavy Table First Anniversary Party
June 10, 2011: North Coast Nosh
September 30, 2011: North Coast Nosh II
January 20, 2012: North Coast Nosh III
April 14, 2012: North Coast Nosh IV
August 17, 2012: North Coast Nosh V
October 13, 2012: North Coast Nosh VI
February 9, 2013: North Coast Nosh VII
Roots to Table: An Indeed Beer Dinner at Red Stag Supper Club
May 12, 2013: North Coast Nosh VIII
Aug. 17, 2013: North Coast Nosh IX

The Toast: December 2013

Banner for the Toast: Drinking Well in the Upper Midwest

Readers: The Toast loves your tips! Which brewery has the best beers for winter? What’s your favorite spot to cozy up with a cocktail? What wines are on your holiday tables? Email or tweet @johnpgarland and let us know. Each month, the person with the best submission will receive a Heavy Table pint glass.

Cheers to staying warm! In this edition we get the lowdown on some upcoming spirits and ciders, then mull some wine to help settle in to our long winter’s nap.

John Garland / Heavy Table
John Garland / Heavy Table

Northeast Sociable

The Toast loves a good cider. We’re always happy to find bars with Maiden Rock on tap, we’re all about mixing snakebites in the summer, and we ferment cider in our closet when winter has us going stir-crazy. Nationwide, cider has been exploding in popularity and we knew it wouldn’t be long before the tap room craze in the Twin Cities picked up the trend.

Sociable Cider Werks is set to do just that, having opened very quietly last weekend off Fillmore Street in Northeast. The reason for the sly opening: not much cider to taste. Owners Jim Watkins and Wade Thompson are currently ramping up production and will have their full lineup available in the tap room by January. Until then, they’ll be pouring beers courtesy of Niko Tonks, head brewer at the upcoming Fair State Brewing Cooperative.

“We’re going for something between a totally dry traditional cider and those sweet commercial ciders,” Watkins tells us. “Something a little heavier, maltier, something that will appeal to beer drinkers.”

John Garland
John Garland

The style he’s referring is a “graff.” These are ciders that contain some brewer’s malt or other adjuncts, which add body and tannin for better balance in the final product. One of their flagships, called Freewheeler, has some sorghum in its makeup. Their Broken Spoke will be a stout graff. Last Saturday, we sipped on a fine saison graff, which featured a delicate apple sweetness finely layered over a hint of mellow grain.

If you stop by the brewery this month, they may have one or two for you to sample. The problem is that good graffs only get better as they sit (the empty space beyond the seating area is destined to become a barrel room). After tasting their amber graff that had been brewed three months ago, we can appreciate the lag time. However, we think the saison graff could become a tap room staple, since that brew came together beautifully in just a few weeks. Expect three beers and three graffs to be available once they’re up to full speed.

The apples are sourced from Pepin Heights Orchard in Lake City — Haralsons, Honeycrisps, and SweeTangos. And an added benefit for the gluten-watchers: All of their graffs will be celiac safe. They also plan to distribute to area bars and restaurants once their stocks allow.

John Garland / Heavy Table
John Garland / Heavy Table

Beer Notes

The first brews from Bent Brewstillery are finally being released this week. You can taste Bartley Blume’s Dark Fatha stout and Nordic Blonde ale this Friday the 6th at Grumpy’s Roseville from 4-8pm, and on Saturday the 7th at Stout’s Pub in Falcon Heights from 3-8pm.

And in case my Secret Santa is reading this, a “seasonal six-pack” of tickets is on sale now from the MN Craft Brewers Guild. It contains two passes to Winterfest on January 31 at the Union Depot in St. Paul, along with a pair for All Pints North and Autumn Brew Review.

Lost Falls

Now added to the ever-growing list of upstart Minnesota Distilleries, Lost Falls Distillery hopes to begin production sometime in February. But first, owners Nils Collins and Brian Nackerud have one week left on their Kickstarter, which is currently about $2,000 shy of their goal.

“We want to start really small,” says Collins. “We’ll be on a shoestring budget.” Their operation at 38th & Chicago will produce very small batches of unique spirits. They have plans for a molasses-based black cherry rum, a sorghum distillate, and a Danish-syle aquavit. They’ll be utilizing local grains, including rye from Nackerud’s family hobby farm in Wisconsin.

Becca Dilley / Minnesota Lunch
Becca Dilley / Minnesota Lunch

Mull It Over

Nothing tastes more like winter to us than mulled wine. That boozy, spicy, heady brew just makes our wool sock-covered toes curl up with joy. Our friends at the American Swedish Institute (above) agree, as they’ll be serving their version of glögg at numerous events this month. In addition to being on the daily menu at FIKA, there will be plenty of glögg to go around at Julbord, ASI’s traditional Swedish holiday feast on December 22.

And they’ve been kind enough to share the recipe for their red version: “FIKA puts our own twist on a Scandinavian holiday favorite,” says manager Emily Garber. “The spices and warmth add coziness and cheer to long winter nights.”

Red Glögg (Rodvinsglögg)

1 bottle Petite Sirah or a good oaked wine with some tannin
4 oz vodka
4 oz sugar
1 tsp coriander
2 cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks
2 dried orange peels
2 tsp whole cloves
0.5 tsp juniper
dash grated nutmeg
1 tsp peeled, chopped ginger

Simmer wine, sugar, and spices for 1-2 hours. Add vodka. Serve at 130 degrees Fahrenheit with golden raisins and toasted almonds.

The Churn: Poached Trout and More

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

City Pages tackles the new pastry situation at Cossetta’s (pictured above; here’s our take). Peace Coffee has a couple intriguing job openings. The Well Fed Guide to Life gets out to Nonna Rosa’s in Robbinsdale. American Swedish Institute is hosting a new after-work Wednesday series featuring mystery beer buckets, Nordic bar food, and courtyard dining. How to poach trout. Mai Village will be getting a much-needed facelift and refresh. A trio of Sartori Cheeses profiled by our own Jill Lewis. And a look at the history of Safari Restaurant.

North Coast Nosh VIII: The Recap

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

If there was any doubt that the Twin Cities has established itself as a forerunner in the national food scene then last weekend surely diminished it. Three Minnesotans had just returned as winners designated by the James Beard Foundation, Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain were at the State Theater for Bourdain’s Guts and Glory tour (Zimmern being one of the JBF awards recipients), and the eighth — and sold out — North Coast Nosh was in full swing at the newly renovated American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.

More than 35 local purveyors, restaurateurs, brewers, and roasters lined the exterior of the sun-soaked ballroom with delights ranging everywhere from small sippers of Aquavit to whoopie pies to — as expected now with every Nosh event — sausages and cheese. The room was full, the samples generous, and the participants jovial. And even though there were mild threats of getting down to skivvies by those manning the Modern Cafe booth (let’s blame the bourbon punch they were serving alongside the smoked paprika sauasge and celery root slaw) the night was really just good, clean, filling fun. There was a solid sense of community and support — two traits Minnesotans are noted for — as it was common to see cross-promotion between booths (such as Kalona SuperNatural half & half in cups of Peace coffee) as well as purveyors darting around the room to taste (and promptly compliment) samples from one another.

(Below, left to right: Saint John’s Abbey, Sweet Science Ice Cream, Caves of Faribault, and Verdant Tea.)

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

For the second time, Nosh attendees had the option to upgrade their tickets to a special Pre-Nosh (pictured above): an intimate presentation of four local purveyors. This event’s included Caves of Fairbault cheeses, samples from St. John’s Abbey’s self-sustaining food community, a generous dollop of Sweet Science Roasted Cherry Chocolate Chunk ice cream, and a sampling of Verdant Teas.

Pre-Nosh purchasers spent roughly 20 minutes in four different rooms, each dedicated to a different purveyor. Rueben Nilsson of Caves of Fairbault passed out plates with five different cheese samples of varying ages: Alemar Blue (75 days), Gorgonzola (94 days), St. Pete’s Select (116 days), and two reserve cheeses (207 days and 270 days). Not only did Nilsson cover the taste and texture behind each cheese, he covered the science behind its production. “You want protein breakdown because it adds smoothness to your cheese,” he said as he described the reserve cheeses. “I’d pair any of our cheese with a porter-style beer. I really like it paired with Indeed Brewery’s Midnight Ryder or Summit Oatmeal Stout.”

(Below, left to right: Fulton Beer, 45th Parallel Spirits, Barbette, Golden Fig, Fresh Bar, Cocoa and Fig, Fika at the American Swedish Institute, Kaveli Foods, Thousand Hills Cattle Company and Chowgirls Killer Catering, and Boom Island Brewing Company.)

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

A trio of presenters covered the sustainable food ecosystem at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville. “We’ve always been a self-sustaining community,” says Lew Grobe. “We even have our own fire department because we’re in our own zip code.” Nosh-ers sampled maple syrup tapped from their collection of 1,000 maple trees and learned about the effects of climate on food sources. “Last year we only had 30 gallons of syrup because of the mild winter. This year we had 600,” says Grobe. The syrup isn’t for sale because of the limited production and St. John’s donates their bottles. One ticket holder won one.

Ashley Olds of Sweet Science ice cream shared her lifelong love of ice cream. “I recently found a photo of myself at age five wearing a T-shirt with the words ‘ice cream’ written across it,” she says. Sweet Science isn’t available in retail yet. Olds is hosting monthly tasting events at the Foodcrafters Collective retail space in St Paul. She encourages tasters to arrive early. Last month almost 500 people came to taste, with a line going out the door and down the street. The next event will be hosted in a warehouse with accompanying live music.

(Below, left to right: Bad Weather Brewing,, Triple Crown BBQ Sauce, Gamle Ode Aquavit, Bread Star Rising, Gerhard’s Brats, and details from the American Swedish Institute, Saint John’s Abbey, and Peace Coffee.) 

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

David Duckler and his team at Verdant Tea discussed the origin of their line of teas. Duckler had received a grant from the CIA to interview Chinese farmers about their origins and was inspired to connect the farmers and their tea leaves directly to his peers at home. “I went there as a student of literature and philosophy and came back as a student of something else,” he says. Samples included an earthy, grounding, fresh-picked spring green tea and an oolong from northern China. Verdant also revealed their plans to open a tea bar in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis in June.

And in brief… a tour of North Coast Nosh VIII. 10,000 Licks offered bite-sized popsicles in three flavors, including chocolate sea salt. Just next door the pair behind were pan-frying warm plates of potato gnocchi with 10,000 Hills short rib and parmesan gremoulade. Next stop, three selections from Gamle Ode Aquavit (including a punchy dill-infused flavor). Barbette wowed with half-dollar sized bites of crunchy pied du cochon croquettes with a sweet gribiche sauce. Petite Sweets Pastries had a table filled with five different flavors alongside tiny shots of milk with polka dot straws. There were whoopie pies, Bourbon Butterscotch, and their own take on horchata — which was kind of like rice pudding sandwiched between two moist cookies. “I’m the scientist and he’s the taste tester,” joked owner Melissa Gallant of her boyfriend (who was helping man the booth).

(Below, left to right: Badger Hill Brewing Company, Corner Table, Angie’s Artisan Treats, Sassy Nanny Farmstead Cheese, Patisserie 46, Wild Run Salmon, and 10,000 Licks.)

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Bad Weather Brewery served two of their three beers: Windvane red ale and Migration blonde ale. “As of right now I think we’re the newest brewery in town,” says co-owner Joe Giambruno. FIKA (the cafe within the ASI building) served small bites of compressed cucumber with creme fraîche, shallot jam, radish, and dill pollen. A new food start-up called Kaveli was on hand with samples of their pre-packaged Indian cooking blends — including a spinach-and-potato pakora fritter and their take on tandoori chicken and naan. And what would a North Coast Nosh be without the Corner Table? In addition to the standard and popular pâté en croûte there were samplings of three-hour smoked pork sausage alongside sweet corn madelines and remoulade. Stack them together and it’s their version of an open-faced sandwich. At the end of the night attendees trickled out, buzzing about their favorite stories, tastes, and sips.

(Below, left to right: Modern Cafe, Lucid Brewing, Petite Sweets Pastries, Crapola Granola, Fika Coffee of Grand Marais, Kalona Supernatural, Alemar Cheese, Joia Soda, and Peace Coffee.)

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table


Cocktails at the Castle at the American Swedish Institute

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

It’s hard to think spring when snow continues to rear its ugly head, but on April 30, it was hot at the American Swedish Institute‘s Valborgsmässoafton celebration, Cocktails at the Castle. Guests celebrated like a Swedes with smoked sausages and red cabbage, a bit of caramel corn, a cocktail or two, and indulged in some birchwood plaque decoupage design.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Local bands Teenage Moods, Dan Mariska and the Boys Choir, Zac HB, plus DJs from Slipmats Radio performed on stages indoors and out … fire dancers mingled amongst the crowds (safely!) … two talented wood carvers chopped logs into pieces of art and actors spontaneously preformed “Hamlet” in the mansion. In addition to live entertainment, cozy couches and fire rings in the grass, and traditional food prepared by the onsite restaurant, FIKA, ASI hosted a Yelp Photo Hunt. And for those who rode in on two wheels, Angry Catfish Bicycle Shop + Coffee Bar provided safety checks.

This is an event not to be missed – the next incarnation (the Hot Shop Herring Glass Blowout) takes place Thursday, July 25. Cross your fingers that Gustav, the mechanical Hahla horse, will still be waiting patiently like an old wooden horse should.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table