The Story of Los Ocampo and Morning Roundup

A strong initial review of Butcher & the Boar in METRO (here’s our preview piece), the Mill Ruins area on the Mississippi may be picking up another Sea Salt Eatery or something along those lines, Middleton, WI is apparently developing a food scene, a look at the couple behind the Los Ocampo restaurants, some lovely photos by Becca Dilley from Minnesota Lunch: From Pasties to Banh Mi, a MPLS-St. Paul Magazine video tour of six “Best Restaurants” hosted by Stephanie March, praise for Mojo Monkey Donuts, another Senser’s restaurant shuts down, and quick tours of many local CSAs and Seed Savers outlets.

Urban Aquaculture Meets Hamm’s and Morning Roundup

The old Hamm’s brewery in St. Paul may become an inner-city fish and produce farm (there’s one in Milwaukee, and it’s similar to one in northwestern Wisconsin), a look at new Wisconsin cheeses (including Espresso BellaVitano), the Lunds / Byerly’s guide to local cheeses, a nice shout-out for Minnesota Lunch: From Pasties to Banh Mi, a profile of Jacquie Berglund of the charity-sustaining Finnegans beer, some local ways to make breakfast at home, news about the St. Paul Santa Crawl and North Coast Nosh friends XYandZ, The Sample Room is selling a half pig’s head special for $15, the collapse of a commodities trading firm reverberates among local farmers, and Dara’s best new bars of 2011.

The SweeTango Apple Takes Manhattan and Morning Roundup

METRO puts out a great-looking Twin Cities brewery checklist, a review of Damien (a small beer derived from Darkness), Minneapolis City Council changes an ordinance to allow microbreweries to operate next door to a church, how to have a Minnesota locavore Thanksgiving, when social media collides with traditional tailgating, some noteworthy 2011 books about food including Minnesota Lunch, the New Yorker files a story on the SweeTango (here’s ours), news about Fulton opening its brewery plus future plans, Target and McDonald’s give up on MN-based Sparboe Farms eggs after evidence surfaces of animal cruelty and sanitation problems, the Charlie Award winners, and Iggers visits Muddy Waters.

Minnesota Lunch on KARE11 and at Cooks of Crocus Hill

Rapture or no, Heavy Tablers and Minnesota Lunch authors James Norton and Susan Pagani will be at Cooks of Crocus Hill tomorrow signing their book. We’ll be at the Edina location (3925 West 50th Street) from 10am until noon and at the Grand Ave. (877 Grand Avenue) location from 1-3pm. And if you tune in to KARE11 at 9:30am, I’ll be talking Minnesota Lunch with Eric Perkins and Chef Brent Pilrain (Roma, Patriots Tavern) who will demo the book’s meatloaf sandwich.

Mendoberri Reviewed and Morning Roundup

Beth Dooley talks up the “insatiable curiosity and shoe-leather reporting” of our Minnesota Lunch book, WCCO lists the top 10 walleye lakes in the state, G. Sheaves shares his food and wine notes for May, Rick heads to the salad bar at Macy’s (?!) and reviews Mendoberri Cafe & Wine Bar, a blog assessment of Rice Paper which nails the “not a lot of food for your money” problem, and Adagio Cafe plans to step in where Dragonfly left off at 50th and Penn.

The Bullfrog Opens and Morning Roundup

The kind-of Bulldog-associated Cajun-inspired Bullfrog bar opens tonight, praise for Aji in Hopkins, Wuollet Bakery is now open in the skyway, a bit of detail about Kitchen in the Market, there’s a new email listserve for Minnesota urban farmers, Rick likes the Scotch egg (and more) at Urban Eatery, and a kind review for Minnesota Lunch: From Pasties to Banh Mi in Madison’s Isthmus.

Forum Closes and Morning Roundup

Poof! Jim Ringo’s Forum goes dark, news of a Seattle restaurant specializing in Upper Midwestern food (including jucy lucys), meditations on the upcoming Burnsville location of Burger Jones, Chowhounds savagely debate whether Heartland is truly great or grossly overrated (for what it’s worth, the last meal we had there was superb), a farm on a truck is coming to Minneapolis, why 112 Eatery rocks (and Minneapolis sucks), the Minnesota Historical Society kicks off a “Sandwich Salon” in support of Minnesota Lunch: From Pasties to Banh Mi (which was also just reviewed in the Bemidji Pioneer), the historic Whitey’s Cafe of East Grand Forks is up for auction this May, an epic local beer and cheese spring fling, Mrs. Kelly’s takes second place in a North American Tea Championship category, Reducer is holding a Cosby-inspired Bacon Burger Dog recipe contest, the state of Minnesota as rendered in Chex mix, big plaudits for a great-looking smoked salmon dish at the Harbor View Cafe in Pepin, WI, and a comic strip rendering of the contribution made to local gastronomy by Paul Bunyan’s tooth.

Minnesota Lunch: From Pasties to Banh Mi

Becca Dilley / Minnesota Lunch

Growing up with two sets of Iron Range grandparents, I couldn’t escape eating pasties.  My parents would always buy a box, stick them in the deep freezer, and pull them out on nights when dinner prep time ran short.  My brothers and I would slather them in ketchup, pick at them, and wonder why we were being subjected to these dry, lifeless, crust pockets.  What I didn’t realize then was that pasties were formulated for Cornish miners, not petulant suburban pre-teens, and that I was actually consuming a part of my heritage.

Similar revelations abound in the pages of Minnesota Lunch: From Pasties to Banh Mi, a new volume of culinary and historical exploration. The book was published by Minnesota Historical Society Press and created by six of my talented cohorts at The Heavy Table: writers Jill Lewis, Lori Writer, James Norton, and Susan Pagani, and photographers Katie Cannon and Becca Dilley.  From the seemingly inconsequential angle of everyday lunch fare, they’ve tracked down the winding roads of Minnesota’s changing food culture and come back with more than just a diverse snapshot of our noon-time meals.

Katie Cannon / Minnesota Lunch

“There are a number of localities in the state that get their day-to-day food from a kind of sandwich,” says Norton. “They’re inexpensive, you can carry them around, and you can enjoy them at work.  In a way, they symbolize where you’re from.” These are foods whose ever presence seems to have excused a lack of a clear history, just as they suggest the potential to be around long into the future.  “The challenge of getting people to talk about folk food, and to research something that’s largely undocumented, was an appealing aspect of the book for us,” he says. “It’s a chance to write about something underexplored and under celebrated.”

It’s the unspoken weight these sandwiches carry that’s at the heart of Minnesota Lunch. The sandwiches are framed as repositories of cultural identity, whether immigrated (bánh mì, tortas) or homegrown (walleye sandwiches and the Jucy Lucy).  Their raison d’êtres range from durability on the job-site (pasties), to economy (porketta), to easy eating after religious fasting (sambusas).  They are all familiar, yet after finishing the book, I was surprised how little about them I actually knew.

The authors reached similar epiphanies. “Somali culture is so present in MN today, yet I had never ventured out to try any Somali food or to learn about the culture,” says Cannon of the Sambusa chapter. “I knew that if someone like me (who seeks food adventures) hadn’t experienced it, that there would be an overwhelmingly large population out there that would really learn something from this.”

Solera’s Baffling Tagline and Morning Roundup

Name your favorite sandwich for a chance to win Minnesota Lunch over on City Pages, new brewpub legislation would allow brewpubs to sell beer to wholesalers, a brief survey of this year’s Firkin Fest (VIP tickets already sold out!), how to make a Lego cake, Rick dines at Jack’s, Scusi, and Uptown Cafeteria, and YoYo Donuts & Coffee Bar (we reviewed Jack’s when it was Java Jack’s, kinda dug Scusi, hated and then liked the Cafeteria, and raved up YoYo), Bell’s plays hardball with Northern Brewer over copyright, and Tom wonders why the deuce a Spanish restaurant like Solera would talk up its “Cucina” (as opposed to the Spanish “Cocina”) in its branding.

Walleye Outtakes from Minnesota Lunch

The blog for the Minnesota Lunch book (“the eleven sandwiches that tell the story of the state”) has a new story up —  an outtake about Mille Lacs, the Blue Goose Inn, and walleye sandwiches.

Pop!’s Debt Crater and Morning Roundup

When Pop! St. Paul went down, it cost the city $96K, the Well Fed Guide to Life heads out to Rinata and talks about the Food & Wine Experience (and kicks off its giveaway of Heavy Table staffer-written book Minnesota Lunch: From Pasties to Banh Mi), the downtown St. Paul Tea Garden is kaput, a profile of pub-and-whiskey magnate Kieran Folliard (and if you haven’t seen our sketches from The Local, gaze upon them), Mayor Rybak is in the pro-Surly brewery camp, a review of Schell’s Rauchbier, and the sap is flowing, finally. So it’s kind of like spring. Other than the snow.

Food Books Aplenty at the Food & Wine Experience

If you’re headed out to the Food & Wine Experience this weekend, make sure you hit the Magers & Quinn table; it’ll be packed with food and drink authors on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday: at 2pm, Robin Asbell, author of New Vegetarian and The New Whole Grains Cookbook; at 3pm, Shelley N.C. Holl, author of The Minnesota Table; and at 4pm, James Norton and Susan Pagani, contributing co-authors to Minnesota Lunch: From Pasties to Bahn Mi. Sunday: at 2pm, Stewart Woodman, author of Shefzilla: Conquering Haute Cuisine at Home; at 3pm, Janice Cole, author of Chicken and Egg: A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading With 125 Recipes; and at 4pm, Ana Micka, author of The Fresh Girl’s Guide to Easy Canning and Preserving.