The Heavy Table Reviews 2009: Part 1

2009reviewtopperWe’ve published more than 1,700 posts since our debut earlier this year, ranging from fleeting thoughts on other people’s news stories to 3,000-word investigations of the food, people, and animals that make up the gastronomic scene in the Upper Midwest. What follows is a leisurely stroll through some of the highlights of 2009.

FEBRUARY

On Feb. 17, 2009, The Heavy Table debuts. The mission of the magazine is report on all things Upper Midwestern and gastronomic, posting two pieces of original content daily while constantly aggregating news and features. Within the year, the magazine picks up a monthly readership of roughly 100,000 (mostly local) pageviews and more than 2,100 followers on Twitter.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The site’s debut story was a profile of Olivier Vrambout, the remarkable artisan baker who is the driving force behind Stillwater’s Bikery.

Lori Writer filed a terrific look at the St. Paul Farmers’ Market in winter, and followed up with a piece on Fat Tuesday Elvis-themed bacon cupcakes that immediately picked up some social media traction.

Aaron Landry and Katie Cannon attend an event celebrating the Red Stag and catch up with soon-to-be senator Al Franken, picking his brain on his favorite Minnesota foods.

In the Churn: Farewell to Fugaise, Vera’s Cafe, and Sam’s Wines; Cheeky Monkey opens; and a fire damages Yarusso Bros.

MARCH

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Heavy Table attends and photographs Paired, an underground supper club / art event helmed by Chef Chris Olson.

Eric Faust documents the somewhat obscure world of Minnesota viticulture, stirring up passionate debate about the future of winemaking in the Upper Midwest.

Always on the trail of a good burger, Jill Lewis becomes the first to hail the burger boom that sweeps the Twin Cities restaurant scene in 2009.

Katie Cannon teams up with Ed Kohler and cameraman / editor Adam Voreis to produce a stellar video documentary on the making and eating of Jucy Lucys.

Ken Liss of Premier Cheese (now sadly closing) talks to Jill Lewis;  Lori Writer takes the cheese theme and runs with it, doing an in-depth story on pupusas.

In the Churn: Jeremy Iggers leaves the Rake, Dan Aykroyd barnstorms the area in support of his premium liquor, Andrew Zimmern provokes some farmers market-related rage, Kim Bartmann battles tax woes, Minnesota brewing booms, and farewell to the inventor of the mini doughnut machine.

APRIL

Kelly Hailstone investigates urban maple syrup, and the Heavy Table explores 25 Things Chefs Hate About You and 25 Things Diners Hate About Restaurants.

Becca Dilley snaps a photo of a squid-centric PBR billboard and documents the aesthetic world of Paradise Roasters.

Minneapolis Tribune, 1888

Minneapolis Tribune, 1888

Contributor Andy Sturdevant goes in depth on Minneapolis food cart culture — or the lack thereof.

And Lori Writer goes deep on the banh mi, an immigrant sandwich with a fascinating past.

In the Churn: The Heavy Table blows the lid off a controversial proposed Trader Joe’s near the Wedge, David Vlach joins the Heidi’s team, the Fogo de Chao waitstaff files a class action lawsuit, Trattoria Tosca opens, and insight into why Minnesotans seem to get so much food poisoning.

MAY

The Heavy Table surveys its users and finds out that they’re highly wired and overwhelmingly cited by friends and family members as “food authorities.”

Katie Cannon goes behind the scenes and photodocuments 20.21 at the Walker.

James Norton and Becca Dilley do what they do (talk to cheesemakers) at Faribault Dairy, home to the largest cheese caves in the country.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Lori Writer and Katie Cannon explore the ins and outs of Hmong cooking in a detailed story.

Susan Pagani unravels the story and charm of the St. Paul Bread Club.

The Heavy Table launches a map that shows many of the places written about in the magazine.

And Becca Dilley heads over to Corner Table to capture — in loving detail — the butchering of a whole pig.

In the Churn: Wildwood Pizza closes (for a while), The Heavy Table joins the Well Fed Guide to Life, Michael Pollan appears at the Galleria, the normally genial Kathie Jenkins tees off on Burger Jones, and France 44 opens it St. Paul cheese shop.

JUNE

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Contributor Andy Sturdevant and photographer Becca Dilley catch up with global superchef Wolfgang Puck at 20.21, bringing home a great interview and a slew of photos.

James Norton kicks off Knife Skills, the weekly gastronomic serial novel that’s currently on its 30th installment.

Becca Dilley and James Norton visit Star Prairie Trout Farm and find out how to raise fish good enough for high-end restaurant tables.

Eric Faust drinks two of the worst cups of coffee in St. Paul.

Mixologist extraordinaire Nick Kosevich gives us some insight into the history of — and degradation, and restoration of — the Old Fashioned.

Katie Cannon goes behind the scenes at Spoonriver.

Beer author Doug Hoverson sits down with coffee writer Eric Faust and samples a slew of coffee beers in search of the perfect blend.

And Lori Writer goes foraging for wild grub with author Teresa Marrone.

In the Churn: Sea Change buzz heats up, Wisconsin specialty cheese booms, D’Amico announces its Chambers takeover, and a want ad provides a sign of the tough economic times.

TOMORROW: July through December!

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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