North Coast Nosh VII: The Recap

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

After several North Coast Noshes, there are some things you know you’ll see. Derek De La Paz of Peace Coffee talking a caffeine-driven mile a minute to a group of excited listeners. Two friends exclaiming over how good “the cheese” was, then bursting in opposite directions as they realize that they’re talking about different cheeses and that more await, or that they foolishly sampled only one of Caves of Faribault’s goudas or blues. The beer pours getting a little bit taller as 8:30 draws near. Pro and amateur photographers getting a close-up of Patisserie 46’s offerings. (This time around, the eye-catcher was the passion fruit-mango-coconut-lime-vanilla shell housing a smooth caramel. It looked like a beautiful chunk of lipstick. If lipstick tasted anything like that, we’d all wear it, night and day.)

However, in addition to these reliable scenes, the Nosh is always a snowstorm of reminders that the local food and drink world is constantly on the move. Old and new businesses alike have fresh plans and new products, and 30 of them came together on Saturday at North Coast Nosh VII at the Peace Coffee Roastery.

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

Some Nosh tables invited the 350+ attendees to see a familiar item in a new way. Cedar Summit Farm cleverly showcased its dairy products by handing out a smooth, melt-in-your-mouth panna cotta. Joia poured a Dark and Stormy made with Captain Morgan rum mixed with their Ginger, Apricot, and Allspice soda. It took me back to college — a much classier version of college with more complex tastes, but a feeling of being young nevertheless.

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

And a first-time-ever pre-Nosh (above) gave 50 ticket holders a chance to do small-group Q&A and sample sessions with purveyors offering coffee (Peace Coffee), chocolate (St. Croix Chocolate Company), grass-fed beef (Thousand Hills), and beer (Summit).

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

Many businesses are enjoying expanded opportunities to reach customers. Erica Strait of Foxy Falafel can now say “Have you been to our restaurant yet?” while Singing Hills Goat Dairy has had more chances to do winter business due to the Mill City Winter Farmers Market. Summit Brewing is invigorated after the opening of its tap room, which allows it to try new recipes and brew in small batches. It served up a simple, tasty Amberweizen that could pair well with a variety of foods.

Some purveyors are working on their next opportunity. Jon Alden of Gray Duck Chai reiterated his hope to make Gray Duck available in retail later this year, while his warm, flavorful tea won over many who rarely think to order a chai. The folks at Izzy’s Ice Cream were clearly thrilled that their new building by Gold Medal Park is progressing. In addition to offering a winter-perfect stout, Fulton Beer was drumming up support (via “Save the Growler” stickers) to raise the annual production cutoff for Minnesota growler sales. The hints of products and projects to come bouncing around Peace Coffee’s energetic space reminded us that the people behind these delicious mouthfuls work hard, all the time.

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

The hard work is allowing our food and drink scene to feed off of itself; several tables featured collaborations. Poorboy Candy, whose caramels were a standout at the last Nosh, made a strong impression again with their irresistible craft beer candied peanuts (one with Lift Bridge Chestnut Hill and one with Summit Extra Pale Ale). Badger Hill Brewing Company passed out adult floats made with Sweet Science Ice Cream. Peace Coffee popped up in a variety of treats, including a Peace Coffee Caramel Mocha truffle from St. Croix Chocolate Company and Izzy’s Peace Coffee Ice Cream. Chowgirls highlighted their ability to team up with other local businesses by showcasing a cocktail made with 2 Gingers whiskey and a comforting Thousand Hills Cattle Company beef sandwich with a tangy, rich sauce. One of my companions earnestly encouraged Sweet Science to make a flavor with those Caves of Faribault blues, so I think I speak for all of us when I say to purveyors: Please, keep these team efforts coming.

There is a feeling of thankfulness at the North Coast Nosh — the bakers, brewers, cooks, and tasty-thing-creators are thankful for the customers and communities that have allowed them to get and stay in business, and they show it through their enthusiasm for conversation-heavy events like this. We, the regular eaters and drinkers who know what a difference a carefully crafted chocolate, a finely tuned drink, or a lovingly conceived bit of cheese can make, are thankful, too — thankful that we live in a place where these things are available to us, rain or shine or snow… or snowy rain.

Join us for the next North Coast Nosh at the American Swedish Institute on May 11, 2013.

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

The purveyors of North Coast Nosh VII, Feb. 9, at Peace Coffee roastery:

2 Gingers Irish Whiskey
Angel Food Bakery
Badger Hill Brewing

Barbette
Caves of Faribault
Cedar Summit Farm
Chowgirls Killer Catering
Common Roots Catering
Cookie Cart
Foxy Falafel
Fulton Beer
Gamle Ode Minnesota Aquavit
Gray Duck Chai
Groveland Confections
Harriet Brewing
Ingebretsen’s
Indeed Brewing Company
Izzy’s Ice Cream
Joia Soda
Lucid Brewing
Patisserie 46
Peace Coffee
Poorboy Candy
Singing Hills Goat Dairy
Summit Brewing
Sunny Road Cheese
St. Croix Chocolate Company
Sweet Science Ice Cream
Thousand Hills Cattle Company
Verdant Tea

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

North Coast Nosh VI: The Recap

Kate NG Sommers / Heavy Table

As the vendors were handing out the last samples at Saturday night’s North Coast Nosh VI, Eva Sabet walked up to Matt Oxford of Wild Run Salmon (top left) and said, “I just wanted to tell you that your salmon is the best fish I have ever tasted. And I’m from Sweden.” (When a Swede compliments your seafood, it means something.)

Oxford packed up his knives and grills and cutting boards and headed to Sabet’s table, where she and her colleagues had been passing out squares of buttered limpa bread, slices of jelly roll, and tiny squares of a candy-like chocolate and caramel cake, made in their Swedish Crown Bakery and Cafe. Oxford tried all three and they chatted for a while.

Kate NG Sommers / Heavy Table

Jim Grell, chef and owner of the Modern Cafe, found himself finally liberated from three hours of passing out sausage, terrines, and pate to the longest continuous line in the hall. So he marched over to the Corner Table’s station and stuck out his hand, eager to talk preserved meats with Nick Rancone, the new owner (below).

Kate NG Sommers / Heavy Table

In the parking lot, two cheesemaking couples, each with a long drive home ahead of them, stood outside their cars and chatted before reluctantly driving away.

Fall Flavors: Q&A with Our North Coast Nosh VI Vendors

Courtesy of Peace Coffee

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.

Lift Bridge Brewing Company

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.

Courtesy of Lift Bridge Brewing Company / Jeff Wegge

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.

Seward Co-op

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!

Courtesy of Peace Coffee

Peace Coffee

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.

Courtesy of Gai Gai Thai

Gai Gai Thai

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 editor@heavytable.com.

Join the event on Facebook and Google+.

North Coast Nosh V: The Recap

Kate NG Sommers / Heavy Table

Weather: prime. Samples: generous and delicious. Purveyors: local, passionate, and skilled. So it went at the sold-out fifth edition of the North Coast Nosh sip-and-sample event, held last Friday at Open Arms of Minnesota in South Minneapolis.

Mercifully temperate August weather highlighted street food vendors (Vellee Deli, Smack Shack, Sassy Spoon, Saucy Burt’s, and MidNord Empanadas, pictured below in that order), creating an easygoing circular saunter through Open Arms out to the street food court and then back indoors for extended sampling.

Kate NG Sommers / Heavy Table

From Smack Shack lobster rolls to Corner Table pate en croute to Alemar Camembert-style cheese to FrozBroz fennel pollen ice cream, the smorgasbord represented some of the most intriguing artisan food purveyors that the area has to offer.

(And if you loved — or missed — this one, grab tickets to our Saturday, Oct. 13 Nosh at American Swedish Institute’s new Nelson Cultural Center.)

Kate NG Sommers / Heavy Table

Below: samples from Open Arms of Minnesota (which provides more than 400,000 meals annually to people suffering from life-threatening illnesses), the charcuterie of Corner Table (which also put together the pate en croute pictured at top), Poorboy Candy, 10,000 Licks, Gai Gai Thai, Chowgirls Killer Catering, Bliss Granola, Alemar Cheese, the Caves of Faribault (presenting pate a choux cheese puffs created by Patisserie 46), and FrozBroz.